"If there is freedom of conscience, why is the burning of the Koran considered a free thought in Sweden, when disrespecting the Torah and the Bible is a criminal offense?"
This was said by Malahat Ibrahimgizi, a deputy of the Milli Majlis, in her statement to the Modern.az website.
Fakt Yoxla checked whether the MP's claim was true.
Swedish police banned the burning of the Koran after right-wing leader Rasmus Paludan burned it in front of the Turkish embassy in Sweden in January. However, in April, the administrative court canceled the ban. The ruling said the posed security threat wasn’t sufficiently concrete to warrant infringement of the rights to freedom of assembly and demonstration.
After this court decision, a person named Salwan Momika, who lives in Sweden, burned the Koran, the holy book of Islam, in front of a mosque in the center of Stockholm on June 28. The incident caused protests in many countries. Police charged the organizer with inciting hatred against an ethnic or national group.
The burning of various religious books is evaluated in the context of freedom of expression. Freedom of expression is regulated by Part 1 of the Swedish Constitution entitled "Government Instruments". According to the basic law, restrictions on freedom of expression can only be imposed to achieve an objective acceptable to a democratic society. A restriction on freedom of expression must be proportionate and necessary compared to the reason for the restriction. The restriction must also not threaten the free expression of opinion.
According to Chapter 16, Section 8 of the Swedish Criminal Code, anyone who, in a statement or in another message that is disseminated, threatens or expresses disrespect for a people group or another such group of persons with allusions to race, skin color, national or ethnic origin, creed, sexual orientation or gender-crossing identity or expression, may be sentenced for incitement against an ethnic group to imprisonment for a maximum of two years. However, the concept of disrespect required for punishment should be interpreted with caution, meaning that not all derogatory expressions and actions against religious values are punishable.
Speaking to LogicallyFacts, an Ireland-based member of the International Fact-Checking Network, Professor Anna Jonsson Cornell (Uppsala University) and Professor Martin Sunnqvist (Lund University) said that no religion is favored over another in Sweden. The Bible and the Torah have no superiority over other religious books.
Thus, in Swedish law, the judgment of disrespect for religious values does not vary according to different religions, and the legislation provides for the same penalties for disrespect for all religions.
Local media reported that the Swedish government allowed the burning of the Koran, but not the Torah. However, these claims are unfounded. The Swedish publication Svenska Dagbladet writes that in January 2023, two people aged 34 and 56 tried to burn the Torah, the holy book of the Jews. One of them applied to the police for the action but later withdrew his application. According to the statement of Israel's ambassador to Sweden, efforts were made to prevent the act from happening but there is no clear information about what specific steps were taken.
A 56-year-old Egyptian man told the police that he did not know how to properly apply for the action. The publication writes that he called the police for a request. According to the person, the woman on the phone asked him for his social security number and was told that he would get an answer in 5 minutes, but there was no answer.
Thus, the Swedish police did not ban anyone who asked for a permit to burn a Torah.
Fakt Yoxla concludes that Malahat Ibrahimgizi’s claim was False.